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Our Program of Formation involves eight years of academic and ministerial training rooted in our Thomistic tradition, a one year novitiate, two years of philosophy, a Residency year, and four years of theology. Throughout all that time our student friars in formation depend completely on the generosity of others and so keep our benefactors in particular at the center of our prayer life. Pleased do add your own regular donation to our continuing need. We thank you now and will continue to thank you with our prayers.
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Western Dominican Province
5890 Birch Court
Oakland, CA 94618-1626
Our Dominican School
The Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA offers Masters and other degree and certificate programs rooted in the tradition of the Dominican order and our brother, St. Thomas Aquinas. Faithful to the teaching of Holy Mother, the Church, our school prepares not only young men studying for the priesthood, but also other men and women who will be the leaders of local communities of faith. Please do join in supporting this essential ministry of the Western Dominican Province.
Br. Peter Junipero Hannah, OP
I first saw the light of day--squinting terrifically no doubt--in Temple, Texas, where my heroic mother gave birth to a 10 pound 13 ounce baby on January 27, 1978. It happened to be the time of the Super Bowl, and onlookers at the nursery window, comparing my size to the other babies, prophesied that I would be a Dallas Cowboys linebacker. That has not turned out to be the case. I don’t have anything against the Dallas Cowboys, or cowboys in general, but moving to Monterey, California in 1980 and growing up there sort of put the cowboy calling out of the realm of possibility, and my generally slender frame squashed any chances at football glory. No matter, I ended up enjoying other sports much better, eventually setting my sights on professional golf by the time I reached high school.
I had quite a blessed childhood: a dedicated father who was in the military, and a mother who was a lifelong teacher, giving me a respect for order and discipline and honesty on the one hand, and an appreciation for creativity and wonder and good story-telling on the other. I am glad also to have one younger sister – a sister who incidentally married in 2006 and now lives in the great city of Boise, Idaho with here husband. After high school I went to U.C. San Diego and majored in history. Along with playing on the golf team there, I joined a fraternity in the first quarter of my Freshman year (1995). Due to participation in many of the classic activities of these Greek societies, I had significantly sullied my soul by my junior year. (“Classic activities” in the truest sense of the word, for modern fraternity culture is not too dissimilar from those ancient pagan pastimes in which Greeks and Romans reveled.)
It was at the end of my junior year when I discovered Jesus Christ in a real way. To that point I had tried to shape myself into an academically successful, socially well-adjusted, and athletically inclined (even to the point of professional golf) individual. Not bad things in themselves, but when perfect performance did not emerge, and was made less and less perfect by the increasing mental haze attending fraternity life, a deep sense of anxiety developed within me. I was fairly good at hiding this anxiety from others, and at putting up a “tough front”, as it were. Yet I knew deep within my soul that things were not quite right.
My father, God bless him, recommended in the Spring of 1998 that I read a book by C.S. Lewis, “Mere Christianity,” as a way of thinking about the Christian faith. He was moved to recommend the book because he, my mother, and my younger sister were all members at the 1st Presbyterian Church of Monterey (where we had attended since I was a child), but I had never taken the step of being officially incorporated.
Lewis’s book was like water in the desert for me. His reasoning was penetrating and cogent, and his explanations of the moral law and Christian belief were astonishingly well-expressed, combining both simplicity and depth. While reading Lewis’ book on a plane ride from Missoula, Montana to Monterey, California, a conviction came over me that…well, that Christianity was true.
Of course there was much more to it than simply that book. I had been raised in the faith, and had any number of personal experiences which shaped how I viewed the world. Nonetheless that book was the occasion of a revolution in my life. I went from one obsessively consumed with golfing success and distressed inwardly over the effect of unhealthy habits on my soul, to one confident that God’s goodness and justice were benevolently present in my daily life.
After my senior year finished, I spent a fruitful year of senior high youth ministry at the 1st Presbyterian Church where I grew up. During that year, I read a lot in my free time. My intellectual interests grew and grew, and eventually these interests led me to the Annapolis, Maryland campus of St. John’s College, otherwise known as “the Great Books School”. Immersion in a consistent life of prayer and study at St. John’s opened up tremendously beautiful vistas for me. More and more I felt myself at home in a lifestyle which combined contemplation and serious study with living out the Christian faith in the world. I also felt increasingly drawn into the fellowship of the Catholic Church. I was drawn both intellectually as I sifted through Christian history and examined the theological and ecclesial issues at stake, and spiritually as I found vast and profound devotional resources within the Church, especially the exceeding beauty of the Mass. It is difficult for an insider to really imagine the gradual and astonishing realization which a non-Catholic can slowly come to as he realizes the simple fact of the Eucharist. The grace of the Lord was effective, and – largely due to discovering an Adoration Chapel at the local parish in Annapolis – I came to believe in Our Lord’s Real Presence in the Sacrament of the Altar, finally coming into the Church in the Summer of 2003.
I spent that Fall and the following Winter and Spring teaching Latin full-time at Stevenson School in Pebble Beach. I love teaching and loved the year I spent there, but the labor demands were such that I could not devote sufficient time to being attentive to a voice I heard more and more clearly, welling up from the depths of my soul: the Lord wants me to be a priest.
I returned to Annapolis for a year to work part-time (Latin tutoring) and devote myself to discerning a vocation. I am happy now to be back West as a Dominican student, pursuing a life of contemplation and action within the context of community life. Nothing excites me more now than to grow spiritually through prayer, study of Scripture, and participation in the Church’s liturgy -- all within the context of communal religious life -- so that, clothed in white, I may be a sign of Christ’s saving grace to a world in violent need of it. (Though I still maintain a healthy respect for football players and cattle-herders.) [updated 8-17-07]